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liris crosse

liris crosse

liris crosse

liris crosse

is dancing on her own

is dancing on her own

is dancing on her own

is dancing on her own

is dancing on her own

Midnight Woman Moon

INTERVIEW BY CARIANN BRADLEY • PHOTOS BY DAVY KESEY • JULY 8TH, 2019

THE PROJECT RUNWAY MODEL WINNER GIVES HER ADVICE ON STAYING CONFIDENT BELOW. BUY HER BOOK "MAKE THE WORLD YOUR RUNWAY" HERE.

CB: So I just want to say I’m a huge fan! 


LC: Thank you!


CB: Yeah! This is just amazing and I also want to go ahead and say that like, you’re the first African American woman I’m interviewing for l’Odet — 


LC: Aw!! 


CB: Yeah, we only have about three interviews live, so it’s all very new to me and it’s really important to me that the platform is diverse and inclusive. But I’m scared honestly; I’m a 23-year-old white woman who is hetero-presenting. You know? I’m extremely privileged and I’m really scared to say the wrong thing, so please correct me if I am perceiving something incorrectly, or if I’m saying something wrong. I still have so much to learn in this industry, regarding diversity and intersectionality, so please feel free to — 


LC: Oh, no problem at all! I just, I applaud you for recognizing where you are in this world and for also being open to learn. And that’s the thing  — this conversation that we have, whether it’s through interview, or in person, or at your local pub, where we get to learn about each other’s experiences and see how different we are but also how much we are alike.


CB: Yeah!


LC: I appreciate you, you know, even putting the foot forward and putting your brand a step forward and try to be inclusive and share all types of stories because that’s really, really important. 


CB: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for saying that. Yeah, it’s scary and I really want people to be able to go on the platform and feel like there are people that look like them on there. So it’s their platform too. So yeah, that’s just been something I’ve been working on the last couple of months. 


LC: Awesome! 


CB: Yeah! So let’s start! I read a bunch of interviews of yours and have just been doing some research and I don’t want to ask you the same types of questions, but you know, you’re the first plus-size model winner on season 16 of “Project Runway.” Is that correct?


LC: Correct. 


CB: Okay, well, QUEEN. That’s amazing


LC: [Laughs]


CB: [Laughs] I’m a huge fan of "Project Runway"! I was wondering, specifically — you’ve emphasized in past interviews that loving yourself and recognizing who you are gives you the confidence to get out into the world and do what you love. You talk a lot about being positive and you’ve mentioned that your spirituality is a cornerstone for you. I was wondering how your experience has been regarding your own mental health in this industry and in your career? 


LC: Okay, well this is one of the things that I actually have been faced with multiple times in my career. When meeting women, some look at me and say, “Oh my gosh! I wanna model like you! I feel it will give me that boost of confidence!” And I’m like, “Honey, sweetie, baby!” In reality, modeling is the last thing you want to go into for building your confidence! If anything, it can break it down. 


Because you are constantly judged. All the time. I mean, I know I’ve said in interviews that my spirituality is my cornerstone. But it’s also me just having strong partnerships and friends and family who I can rely on. I’m the type of person a lot of people rely on for their motivation, for their inspiration, for my advice. Sometimes you have to have other people that you're able to check in with. And when they see that your tank is low, they’re able to have that cannister of motivational gas to pour into you and just say, “I believe in you. I see you. I love you. You’ve got this.” But also, planning time for myself. I just spoke to you, when we got on the phone, and I told you about all this travel and all this other stuff that I’m doing. In my head, I’m also planning time when I’m gonna clock out. I know for my own mental health, I have to take time for myself. I can’t pour from an empty cup because there’s nothing to give. 


CB: Yeah, absolutely. 


LC: I have to make sure that I restore myself, not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually — whether that’s going to church, having a spa day, whether that is laying on the floor in my apartment and playing music and just zoning out — whatever I have to do to restore myself. And, not only that, but positivity also plays another role in that. Positivity meaning: seeing the glass half full instead of half empty; but also seeing myself as grand, as big, as a reflection of God, as almighty and powerful. Because I feel like I am a piece of God, you know? I am His daughter. In that, I also believe I embody a certain amount of His strength. Even though I can be very positive in mindset, I can’t front and say certain stuff that I go through doesn’t affect me — because I’m only human!. It affects me just like it affects everybody else! But, it’s how I choose to respond to it. 


And I think a lot of times we forget the choice that we have in that. You know? Sometimes I have to say, “Okay well that just wasn’t for me,” or, “that just wasn’t for this time.” But I’m still, even in that response, looking at it in a positive light. I think positivity has been one of those things that has helped my mental health. If I want to live in a pessimistic mindset, phew, I definitely wouldn’t have accomplished hardly any of the stuff that I’ve been able to accomplish. 


I’ve been told I’m too black, I’m too fat, I’m too out-spoken. If I fed into all that and looked at it as this negative thing, I wouldn’t get anywhere. Instead, I look at it like this — okay, so you’re saying I’m plus? Okay, yeah, plus means more! I am more. More is a good thing! Who doesn’t want more dessert? Who doesn’t want more love? Who doesn’t want more kindness? I am plus! Yep. Plus some hips, plus some lips! And I’m okay with that. Or you know, talking about race and color. “I’m too black.” Yeah, but black is beautiful. I find the positivity in that. Black is beautiful. There are so many different looks of black. God blessed me to be black because He knew I could handle it! [Laughs] You know? And I think — in a place where a lot of times we are not honest with ourselves about where we are mentally — I think I’m very honest with myself. Even if I am not liking the mental state I’m in, I’m still honest with myself. 


I used to hold all of my feelings in and blow stuff off. And then next thing you know, I held everything in, kind of like that boiling pot — that boiling kettle on your stove. And then finally when it reaches that temperature, you blow off and it’s just not a good situation. You may say something that hurts somebody’s feelings; you might even hurt your own feelings. You know? 


CA: Yeah! Definitely.

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LC: And instead, now I allow myself — whether it’s something with a casting, whether it’s something in a dating relationship, whether it’s something in family — to feel whatever I need to feel in that moment. Whether it’s sadness, whether it’s happiness, whether it’s disappointment When I allow myself to feel whatever that feeling is, then I’m able to unpack those feelings and move forward. Before, I wasn’t able to move forward because I wasn’t even acknowledging what I was feeling. “Oh darn! Darn, I didn’t get that job! Okay, next!” So, I do think that for modeling you have to have a forgettable memory, but I allow myself — if it was something I was really hoping for — to feel that disappointment for a second. I just don’t stay stuck there. I think that goes back to, again, remembering the choices that we have in life. I choose to be happy. I choose to be positive. I choose to not let the disappointment of today carry on for a whole month. I choose not to carry everyone’s emotional baggage on me. Life is about choices, and I…I am about choosing me everytime. [Laughs]


CB: Yeah. You’re taking me to church right now, I’m about to cry! 


LC: [Laughs] But it’s the truth though! If I don’t bet on me, I’m no good for anyone else! I have to choose me. It’s not being stuck up and it’s not being selfish, because my thing is, I want to be able to help other people. If I don’t help me, I can’t help you. Becoming okay with that and being very honest about who [I am] and what I feel at any given moment has been the game-changer as far as mental health for me. 


CB: Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s a lot of validity in that. And it’s funny because I was just talking to someone — I’m based in Nashville, Tennessee — at the Nashville Sexual Assault Center a couple of days ago. I had a meeting — I’m doing a panel with the Sexual Assault Center, and we were talking about how we want to focus on self-care and the idea that you don’t think about how, when you’re doing things for other people, that’s going to take up a lot of space to hold within yourself. You really have to take care of yourself in order to help other people, just like you said. And it can just become really draining, especially — like the submissions I deal with on Midnight Woman, well I use the words “deal with” but I mean it’s positive, I’m reading stories of sexual assault or abuse. It really takes a toll. It’s important to make space for yourself to heal and take in other people’s stories. 


With that being said, you’re an inspiration for so many people. What are some self-care techniques that you usually use to choose yourself and unwind while you’re travelling and doing all of this work for other people? 


LC: I know this is gonna sound really corny, but sometimes it’s as simple as going to sleep! Today I was like, “Oh, it’s Sunday! I didn’t get to go to church last Sunday. I should wake up, and go to service.” But then my body was like, “No girl! We need some rest!” So I just went back to sleep! [Laughs] We don’t realize how much our bodies need quality, good rest. Because when we get good rest, it restores our mind and body. We don’t realize how many laps our mind is running every day. Whether it's the stuff we’re seeing on social media, phone calls that we’re having — whether business or personal. Our minds are running marathons and sometimes we just need to clock out. 


Another thing is doing stuff that makes you feel good. We say go to the spa. Go get a massage, stuff like that. But it can be having some girlfriends over to cook for them. That’s how I like to feel good — it feels good for me to cook for people and for me to have good friends that I can laugh with. Laughter is like chicken soup for the soul, it really is! It can really make you feel so good. I’m a foodie so I either like to cook for people or I like to go to some of my favorite restaurants. So if I’m traveling, I’ll sometimes find a restaurant that I’ve never been to and go there and try one of their dishes. It’s like I’m taking myself out on a personal date and it feels so good. 


Another thing, you know — my book is called “Make the World You Runway” — and sometimes you just gotta walk it out. I mean, go for a walk! And really go for that walk and put your phone away for most of that walk, or don’t take it with you at all! And really just breathe, take in the world around you. I know this because I live in New York and I’m constantly attached to my phone. I breakdown in Maryland where my family’s house is. I can go outside and literally, it’s so clean and nice I can walk barefoot outside if I want to! If I really take my time, I can smell the honeysuckle outside when it’s spring and summer. I’ll take deep breaths just so I can be in the moment and feel my body and my sense of self. 


Another thing I do, and this may be in New York or sometimes when I travel, I go and I dance! There are a lot of studios across the country, especially if you live in a major city like LA or New York. You can get a same-day deal to rent a studio — you know, it doesn’t have to be a big room! A small room could be anywhere from $10 to $25; you can rent it for an hour or two and hook your phone up to a bluetooth speaker — just go in there and dance! And you don’t have to be the best dancer, because guess what? I am not the best dancer. At all! But there is something about me being able to feel the music and move in my body, and being in this space by myself; being able to just do whatever comes to mind, feel whatever comes to my body. A lot of times, our bodies are holding onto so much tension and we don’t even realize it. And if you don’t have a studio, you know if somebody and their kids are gone for the weekend or their husband is out of town, put on some music, pull that coffee table and couch back and dance! Just have fun and dance! You don’t have to be the best dancer! Walk it out, do the dougie, whatever you have to do! For me, I move more like modern dance when I dance. Do something that makes you feel amazing and brings a rejuvination to your mind, body, and soul. I think that is really, really important. 


And another thing, read books! Read my book! [Laughs]


CB: Yes! Exactly. 


LC: Yeah, but just read books. That’s a great way of escapism. And there's so much knowledge in books. They always say if you ever want to hide something from somebody, put it in a book! There are so many tips and so much knowledge out there that can help us feel better about who we are and how we can serve our purpose in the world, if we would just open a book. 


CB: Yeah, exactly. Those are all really great things. Also, I have never thought about the studio thing! Definitely going to do that because I don’t like dancing in front of other people because I dance like...Elaine from “Seinfeld” or something. I can’t dance! That’s the thing! [Laughs]


LC: [Laughs] I’m telling you! I’m the same with karaoke. I have friends who love to do karaoke, but I don’t do karaoke in front of other people because I’m like, “I'm not a great singer and what if you talk about me being a little tone-deaf?” For me, when I’m alone by myself, I sing, and I dance, and I really have fun with myself and I think that’s important, too. When you start to have fun with yourself and know who you really are, it feels so good. And then you know how to do whatever self-love, or whatever things you need to do to restore yourself because you really know who you are, what you want, what you don’t like, and what helps you feel better. 


CB: Yeah, I think in today’s society, people avoid being by themselves. But at the end of the day, that’s all we have. When everything else falls away, we have to be comfortable being alone. 


LC: Yes. That’s why I tell people, “I really like myself.” [Laughs] 


CB: Yeah! That’s not a normal thing to say! Like, I’ve said that before to my therapist and it’s just...it’s a really nice realization when you realize that you can love yourself and it’s not being cocky or whatever. 


LC: Mhm, yep. I was like, “I really like myself! I’m enjoying my company!” I really do. 


CB: That’s amazing. I really admire that. I think that’s amazing. 


LC: Thank you. 


CB: Yeah. I did want to ask about your work with Maggie Sottero [the bridal designer]. My best friend from high school interned at Kleinfeld a couple semesters ago — 


LC: Aw!!


CB: Yeah, that’s one of the designers that they sold there. So yeah, I’m interested to know what it’s been like working with her. Are you married? Are you single? 


LC: I am single. I am ready to get married, but you know, I’m the type of person — I’m not going to get down on one knee and ask a man to marry me. I just feel like it will happen whenever it’s supposed to at this point. 


Working with Maggie Sottero’s designs has been like a dream come true. It feels like a full-circle moment because I was a little girl who used to go to the library and pick out bridal magazines. And I used to dream of my wedding dress and you know, I used to be like obsessed with weddings and bridal stuff. So now, to be able to model for a brand where I get to dress up for all of these different collections — it’s been pretty amazing! 


I think the fact that they’re trying to do things differently and create change within the bridal industry is important. I mean, you hardly see plus models in bridal! And don't even get me started about trying to see a black plus-size model. It really is a big deal to be able to represent both.


CB: Absolutely. I’m sure you’ve learned, too, just about the bridal experience. I guess the average size in America is a 16, isn’t it? 


LC: Yes. 


CB: I’m like a size 6/8 so for me, the idea of going in and trying on wedding dresses sounds like the worst thing ever. That sounds so scary. So I can’t even imagine what it’s like for plus-size women going and trying on sample dresses.


LC: It’s crazy that you said that because yesterday the event that I had to do, I did it at a place called Curvaceous Couture Bridal, and they, 10 years ago, became the first exclusive plus-size bridal boutique in the country


CD: Wow. 


LC: Ten years ago! And even with them being around 10 years, they still go through certain brands who don’t always offer the samples that you need. They’ll say that they have dresses up to “this” size but can you imagine the experience for most plus-size brides when they go to a non-exclusive bridal company? They are just going there to hold dresses up to themselves. 


CB: That is insane.

Liris-web-9

I choose to be happy. I choose to be positive. I choose to not let the disappointment of today carry on for a whole month. I choose not to carry everyone’s emotional baggage on me. Life is about choices, and I, I am about choosing ME everytime.

I choose to be happy. I choose to be positive. I choose to not let the disappointment of today carry on for a whole month. I choose not to carry everyone’s emotional baggage on me. Life is about choices, and I, I am about choosing ME everytime.

I choose to be happy. I choose to be positive. I choose to not let the disappointment of today carry on for a whole month. I choose not to carry everyone’s emotional baggage on me. Life is about choices, and I, I am about choosing ME everytime.

I choose to be happy. I choose to be positive. I choose to not let the disappointment of today carry on for a whole month. I choose not to carry everyone’s emotional baggage on me. Life is about choices, and I, I am about choosing ME everytime.

I choose to be happy. I choose to be positive. I choose to not let the disappointment of today carry on for a whole month. I choose not to carry everyone’s emotional baggage on me. Life is about choices, and I, I am about choosing ME everytime.

LC: They just have to imagine what they would like in it. Imagine. You already know that these plus-size women have different situations with where their weight is distributed in their bodies. But then to add insult to injury, I think that’s the term, they have to stand there and put a dress on a hanger over their heads, or they’re trying to see if their arm can go through so they can kind of see what the lace looks like on their arms. It’s despicable! 


This is the average experience for a lot of brides out there. And I am hoping that some of the work that I’m doing helps, showing how beautiful plus-size brides can be photographed and that we just exist and we’re out here. A lot of [plus-size women] get married!


CB: Yes, of course! 


LC: Just like everybody else! They want to have a great shopping experience as well. I mean I’m just glad that Maggie Sottero is here — they’re doing stuff like running ads in “Brides” and they’re not saying, “Plus-size model, Liris Crosse!” They’re just putting out the ad saying, “This is the latest dress from Maggie Sottero.” And it just has me in all my glory and all my curves. It’s not like they’re trying to make this whole statement; they’re just being. Because guess what? Most of the brides who are going to see that ad are going to see somebody with a little more meat on their bones and say, “Oh! She looks great! Oh, they probably have something in my size, that’s great!” So, to be branded now, and just show me and not turn it into this huge over-statement, it’s great.


It will be two years in January that I’ve been working with them. But in just the past year and a half, we’ve already made such an impact and made some true noise in the industry from having me on the runway in Barcelona, at Barcelona Fashion Week. Last year, I became the first black plus-size model to walk their major show. 


CF: Wow. 


LC: Yeah. I returned this year and got a round of applause and all of these reposts of me twirling on the runway and bringing life to this gown that I was wearing for my last look. I was really embraced out there. One of the brides, yesterday, she started to cry meeting me because she said, “Just you being here to help me pick out my dress today,” she was like, “I’m 47 years old and I never even thought that I would get married. You being able to be here and seeing you in the ads looking so beautiful in a wedding dress — it really gave me hope.” 


I can talk about another time, I actually just met this lady in person while I was in Barcelona. She has a bridal boutique in either Nigeria or South Africa, I can’t remember, I’ll have to look her up. But because the bridal market is so white-washed, she buys all of these dresses from other distributors and most bridal boutiques just use pictures that the bridal companies produce. So imagine her trying to sell to all of these black brides, and all the pictures are of white women. Instead, she would get the dresses in and spend her own money to reshoot the dresses on black models or a friend of her company so she could better sell the dresses. So when the first campaign came out with me, she literally was crying and saying, “Oh my gosh! My prayers have been answered. Wow! I’m just so excited you guys are using a plus-size model and she’s black!” She just was like, “I can’t believe this.” She put her order in that same day that the campaign came out! 


CB: That’s incredible!


LC: Yeah. These are the moments that — literally, when they told me that story, I started crying! Because sometimes you think you go through all of this stuff, whether it’s travelling back and forth or doing this, doing that. You just wonder am I making an impact? And stories like that show me that I am making an impact. The bride yesterday, with her kind words — that lets me know I’m making an impact. When women send me pictures and say, “I’m buying this wedding dress because of you!” Those are things that make me know that the work that me and Maggie Sottero are doing — it’s all worth it! It’s all worth it. 


CB: That’s amazing! That just gives me chills. 


LC: Yeah, I mean, it’s literally...I’m just like wow


CB: Yeah. I mean you’re working so hard, and I’m just so glad that you’re getting these moments that are reminding you that it’s worth it because I’m sure that it’s exhausting. 


So yeah, I just want to close with one last question. I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but what advice would you offer for your younger self, or someone out there who sees you and wants to be like you? What advice do you want to give them? 


LC: [Pauses] I would say remember that life is definitely a journey and you’re going to make some mistakes. It’s just inevitable. Some mistakes you may hold onto and regret, and some other people may try to hold it against you as well. But you don’t have to. Don’t let anybody keep you a slave to your past. Past mistakes, what you did before, who you used to be. Whether you were somebody who just wasn’t really that confident, and now you are, or maybe you had lousy character when you were younger and now you're a person with better character. Maybe you weren’t as fabulous and put-together looks-wise as you are now. You know? A lot of times, people will try to keep you in a place where they feel more secure about who they are. But you don’t have to be a slave to anything that happened to you before, that you were before; you are allowed to grow and change. Especially as women! 


There’s a girl named Draya [Michele] who was on “Basketball Wives” and back in the day, they used to call her like a “video hoe” and she was like, “Oh I feel like your hoe-ness can be deleted.” People were laughing. And my thing was, people were laughing at her but I’m like, the girl owns her own swim company. She has a brand, she’s a business woman now. And if she really allowed herself to let these people hold her to who she was before, who knows the havoc it would wreak on her mind and heart? So don’t allow people to keep you where you were before. Learn from your process. Learn from your mistakes and push forward because the best is always yet to come! Also just remember, it gets better. It gets better. 


We go through stuff, and trust me I’ve been through stuff where I was literally breaking open piggy banks of pennies and coins and taking it to the bank to try to pay bills or get food, for real! And you wonder, when is this going to be over? It will be over, you just have to stay the course and it gets better. Mentally it gets better, spiritually it gets better, personally it gets better. Just don’t give up. 


CB: Yeah, absolutely. That’s perfect. Thank you so much. 


LC: Thank you! 


CB: Yeah, just thank you so much for talking to me today. I hope that the rest of your day is very restful. 


LC: [Laughs]


CB: As good as can be. 


LC: It’s gonna be great! I’m trying to look at my Airbnb for LA and then I’m going to go see my dad in like two hours, so I’m going to be just fine. 


CB: Yeah, you’re going to be doing a shoot for me on Wednesday, just with one of my really good friends out in LA. His name is Davy and he’s on the board of directors for my brand. He’s just an amazing photographer. Yeah, just do whatever makes you feel comfortable and let me know if you have any issues with that as well. 


LC: I’m sure we’ll be fine.


CB: But yeah, thank you so much. This has just really blessed me today and made my whole entire life. So, thank you. 


LC: Aw thank you! So sweet, thank you so much. 


CB: Well, safe travels Liris and thank you again! 


LC: Thank you, and I can’t wait to see the piece when it’s all done!


CB: Me either! Thank you so much. 

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Have you been to Midnight Woman? That's our sister. Submit anonymously here.

For general inquiries, please contact us at hello@midnight-woman.com

 

For advertising opportunities, please write to us at goldie@midnight-woman.com

 

Have you been to Midnight Woman? That's our sister.

Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences anonymously.

We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. l'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.

Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences.

We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. L'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.